I am a "born again" Christian and a recovering heroin addict--two and one half years clean and sober.
I was introduced to a charismatic church in my local area in the fall of 1996 where I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. For a long time I thought that it was the best thing that had ever happened to me, but things began to change after our Pastor went to the revival in Pensacola.
Several of the leaders began to take monthly trips to the revival--taking with them a van full of the church members. They took me along for one run to Toronto and I thought it was okay. I didn't understand all the hype though that I heard from the people returning from the revival.
The church that I was attending began to strongly discourage any outside counseling and twelve step programs. The only time they turned on the television was to watch Brownsville revival tapes. It seemed that they had lost all sense of balance.
Of course, for about a year I went along with their program. I stopped attending my daily (twelve-step program) meetings because "I had been delivered" and all I had to do was "have faith in God." When I began to express the fact that I was beginning to experience a craving to use again, I was frowned upon.
I wanted to go to meetings and did so behind their backs. When the church leadership found out they were upset-very upset. They said things like "as long as you don't confess it with your mouth you'll be okay", which contradicts what I was taught in the twelve-step program where you are encouraged to talk about what you are feeling. They threw Christian literature and Christian music my way, told me to read my Bible more and I'd be okay. My desire to "sin" grew stronger and when I expressed that to them, I felt that I was being condemned for being a human being, who of course, had a drug background.
Then in the spring of this year I had a chance to experience the revival in Pensacola. It was my final attempt at being delivered from the obsessive behavior that every recovering addict I know struggles with. Well, the delusion that I had been cured lasted only for a short while--before the big spiritual plunge.
I wanted so desperately to believe that I could be delivered in an instant! That I didn't have to walk back through the pain and suffering I had endured as a child, which of course is what led to my many years of alcohol and drug abuse. The revival DID NOT help me to overcome my obsessive behaviors. In fact, when all was said and done I believe it did more harm than good.
Thank God I was able to maintain my sobriety through out this entire ordeal. I left the church I was attending--cutting off those people that I felt were a hindrance to my recovery, sought a certified addiction counselor for my weekly sessions instead of a Pastor, resumed a twelve-step program and reading NA/AA literature along with my Bible. I made a conscious decision not to let myself be spiritually abused anymore!
Life is still a struggle for me some days. I'm trying desperately to unlearn all that they taught me in the year and a half that I attended that church. I do believe that those types of teachings (Pensacola revival, "Word of Faith" movement, Pentecostal and charismatic churches) can cause confusion and lead to damage in the lives of recovering addicts or people seeking recovery.
These types of teachings create disillusionment, disappointment and resentment, which could cause someone to slip back into old habits. I do however believe that Jesus is the Son of God and our only key to Heaven, but as they say "God helps those who help themselves" -- and at this point in my life and recovery I am making an honest attempt at working my program to the best of my ability.
I am grateful that I stumbled across your web site. I was beginning to feel that I was alone in my opinion of the "big revival" in Pensacola. Keep doing what you're doing, I'm sure there are many more people like myself out there. I encourage you that you are doing the right thing.
Copyright © 1998 Rick Ross
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